Sunday, October 22, 2006

Advice from Strangers

"The opposite of love is indifference." - Lynn from "Girlfriends"

When I first heard that statement, I didn't put much thought into it. I surmised that there was some truth to it, but I didn't dwell on it. Tonight, I watched a new show called, "Brothers and Sisters", where a couple discussed breaking up. He told her that he had no doubt she could get along well on her own; the difficult part would be letting someone else in. That struck a huge chord with me; especially after the deep (unwanted) conversation I had last night with someone I've only known for a few weeks. It's a long story, but it basically involved the intimacy of kissing.

I know that I am capable of loving and sharing myself, but I don't convey that very well to others. Indifference seems to be my staple characteristic. I have heard on more than one occasion that I am emotionless, aloof, and even cold. I have become so accustomed to guarding myself that I don't even remember when it started. I don't recognize my behavior towards others anymore. I foolishly believed that I was changing because I was trying harder to open myself up to others. Apparently, it's not working. No one else seems to appreciate my effort. I have built so many walls around myself as insulation from hurt and pain that I don't always realize that I am hurling it at someone else. Yes, I explain it away as a defense mechanism, but it's time for the defenses to come down. My friend used to have a stuffed toy that would make smart aleck comments when it was thrown against something. "Get over it!"

My close friends have no problem telling me when I'm wrong. They know that I can be cold sometimes and they call it out. They also recognize that they can count on me to be honest when they need to hear the truth. They know that I am trustworthy - I don't share their secrets, even with people that don't know them. I sign a confidentiality agreement in my heart. I am giving and loving. I am thoughtful - like the night I played and sang "You are My Friend" to Ish in the drive-thru at Chubby's. (so cheesy) When I tell someone that I love them, I mean it. I don't throw those words around in vain. My best friend (the still unlicensed therapist) calls me narcissistic. We have been friends since middle school and still get along because we can call out each other's faults and also recognize our strengths. We are opposites. I am cold at first and push most people away until I warm up to them (if they stick around long enough), and she is very friendly at first until you try to get closer and she pushes you away. We are both very careful about how much we share with others.

Now, back to that original statement on indifference. I pride myself on not hating anyone. Someone recently asked me if I had any enemies, and I said none that I am aware of, but if there were any I wouldn't care. That seems to be my mantra. I don't care. If you want to see me. I don't care. If you don't want to see me. I don't care. If you want to go to the moon. I don't care. If you want to take me with you. I don't care. You want to talk to me. I don't care. You don't want to talk to me. I don't care. Either way it goes, I'll be fine. I'll survive. Most of the time when I say that I don't care, I really mean it. Sometimes, it's just a facade. I had a conversation with a male friend about a guy that I really liked and things didn't work out. He was shocked to see that I cared so much about what happened between us, and I kept trying to figure out what went wrong. Until that point, he thought that I was always calm and level-headed, but I told him that is the face I show to the world. When I really care about someone, I want to please them, even if it's not something that I always want to do. When they hurt me, I don't show it - not to them anyway. I might think of things I want to say or do to hurt them, but usually it just goes down on paper, stays in my head, or goes into the ears of a good friend. I've only had one crazy moment when I destroyed someone's property, but I was really calm when I did it and it made me feel so much better. They deserved more, but I got my point across - Literally. : )

If I were to grade myself on how well I get along with others, I would give myself a B. However, based on feedback I've received, I'm not sure if I'm worthy of a passing grade. I need to become more aware of my interactions with others and how they might interpret my behavior, or lack thereof. I think that being alone has only bolstered my self-reliance and tendency to do things on my own without seeking input from others. I am very comfortable with myself and making my own decisions. I'd rather do a lot of things by myself because I don't have to consider the other person's needs or wants. There's nothing wrong with that, but I must make a better effort of including and welcoming people in my life.

I am a life in progress.

I pray for you.
You pray for me.
I love you.
I need you to survive.

You are important to me.
I need you to survive.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Role of a Father

Today, at church, my pastor started a series with the above title. He spoke about how fatherhood is becoming synonymous with absenteeism, neglect, and disappointment. All men are called to be fathers, whether they have biological children or not. There are too many children without fathers who could use a male role model in their lives. A father is more than just a man who is in the house. Physical presence does not make you a father. A good man is going to be a good father even if he doesn't live in the same house as his children.

A father sacrifices for his children.
A father is an example to his children. He realizes that his daily life says more than any words he could utter.
A father is a leader.
A father loves his children unconditionally.
A father is a protector. He equips his children with tools to help protect themselves even when he is not around.
A father is not perfect, but he strives to be better each day.

A lot of people seem to think that boys need their fathers more than girls. I can understand that viewpoint, but I know from first-hand experience that girls need them just as much. A woman can't teach a boy to be a man. She can tell him what she thinks and try to push him in the right direction, but it takes a man to show him how to be a man. A man also has to show his daughter what to expect from a man. She has a harder time finding a good man if she doesn't have a good example. Women shouldn't have to find a man. Women are supposed to choose the best suitor, but these are perverse times.

Most of my female friends have serious relationship issues with males that can probably be traced back to their dysfunctional relationships with their fathers. Some people choose to acknowledge the challenges of their past and move on. Others find it a little more difficult. Deep down inside we hope that we will meet someone who sees the baggage and the effort that we exert to try to eliminate it.

My relationship with my father is basically nonexistent. I don't fantasize about having a perfect relationship with him. I can't change him, and I know that. I am disappointed, but that seems to have been the theme of our relationship for as long as I can remember. It's not his fault that I have a hard time trusting people (especially men). Maybe he has a hard time trusting too. I'm afraid that I will be like him.

I choose to be different.

I remember
When you used to take me on a bike ride every day on the bayou
(Remember that? We were inseparable?)
And I remember when you could do no wrong
You come home from work
And I jump in your arms when I saw you
(I was so excited)
I was so happy
(So happy to see you so happy to see you)
To see you
Because you loved me
I overcome
And I'm so proud of what you've become
You've given me such security
No matter what mistakes I make you're there for me
You cure my disappointments and you heal my pain
You understood my biz and you protected me
You treasure every irreplaceable memory
And thats why I want my unborn son
To be like my daddy
I want my husband to be like my daddy
There is no one else like my daddy
And I thank you for lovin me(daddy daddy daddy)
- Beyonce

I cried the first time I heard this song because I couldn't say that it was true for me.